Last month, CareerBuilder recognized Netgain as the winner of this year’s Big Strides in Small Business Award. In the following Q&A, Scott Warzecha, founder and president of Netgain, talks hiring philosophies, serving employees before customers and what makes Netgain employees stick around for the long haul.
“We don’t fix computers, we fix people’s problems,” says Netgain President Scott Warzecha. Warzecha founded Netgain in 2000 with the goal of relieving people from the frustrations that can come with owning technology and providing them a trusted IT advisor. For this reason, he considers Netgain a service company more than a technology company, and why he also recruits employees who have a passion to serve and help others.
CareerBuilder: What was your reaction to winning the Big Strides in Small Business Award? Scott Warzecha: I don’t want to say “humbled,” because that’s an overused word, but I was grateful for the work Kim, our HR coordinator, and the videographer did to put us in a position to win. When I saw the video – with these employees who were unscripted and unprompted, and speaking from their hearts – it really kind of gave me insight into what’s important to them, how they view Netgain and why they work here.
What makes Netgain a great place to work? Working here isn’t just a job, it is a career path. Because Netgain is a growing company, employees have a lot of different opportunities – not just in the technical aspect, but also in leadership or supervisory work. I think the core of why our employees stick around for a long time is that, as our company grows, our employees grow along with us. Employees also like the autonomy they get at Netgain. It gives them pride in their work and in their contribution.
When your’re recruiting new employees, what traits or skills do you look for most? The first thing we look for in technical employees—which is about 80 percent of our people— is a passion for technology. The second element is the “right fit.” The third thing is humility. And what I mean by humility is a willingness to serve others. We want someone who sees what they do as helping someone with their problems. Once you have humility, the culture kind of takes care of itself.
Speaking of culture, how would you describe Netgain’s? Netgain has a very collaborative culture. We have saying here: “We’re a bomber crew; we’re not a fighter pilot.” The people here understand that we’re all working together, and we have to collaborate and invest in others
We hear a lot of companies talk about how hard it is to find qualified candidates – particularly when it comes to IT talent. Do you find that to be the case at Netgain? One of my hiring philosophies is “hire for aptitude and attitude versus experience.” If you hire the right person at an early stage, you’ll get better results in the long-term than if you hire someone who is a mediocre fit with more experience.
Earlier, you talked about wanting employees who are passionate about wanting to serve. Why is that important to you? It’s because it’s the core of what we do: We don’t fix computers. We fix peoples’ problems. People want to have a relationship with their technical person. You can find a lot of people who can fix servers, fix PC’s, fix “stuff”, et cetera; but when you have people with the ability to build rapport and trust with clients, that’s when you can step away from the situation, and let that employee represent the company, build relationships and carry on the values on which the company was founded.
What or who has inspired the way you approach leadership and management? If you want to know who my personal heroes are, they would be those people who were in service to others. The three that come to mind are Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King. When I first started the company as an entrepreneur, it was all about me and my clients. But then about five years ago, I realized that that running this organization was about growing the employees – not serving clients, but serving the employees. One of my biggest enjoyments is watching my employees as they grow from college kids to individuals starting families, buying houses and raising kids. It’s very rewarding.